I couldn’t take another breath.
As a skinny ten-year old kid, I would toss rocks into the air, launching them one-by-one into the brilliant Arizona sky using a broom handle, broken stick, or anything else that could substitute for a bat.
It was a million miles from the Bronx, New York, but each swing sent my imaginary baseball to the deepest parts of Yankee Stadium, securing my place among the Yankee legends who once played there.
Now here I stood as an adult in Tampa, Florida, watching in amazement as the present-day New York Yankees prepared for another Major League Baseball season, taking swing after swing under the watchful eye of coaches, scouts, and about 300 or so fans.
I noticed another element to the mix.
Players from an earlier run of championship Yankee teams had been invited to participate in Spring Training, offering their tutelage, and reinforcing the level of commitment required when excellence is the stated expectation.
More than a courtesy extended to heroes of seasons past, these players represented the importance of Legacy Talent in both creating, and sustaining, culture as your strongest competitive advantage.
The Gates Are Open
I was working the PM Shift at the hotel, leaving my mornings free to hang around with Nikolas, our newly talking, finally walking 3-year-old toddler.
The local news in Tampa reported that Spring Training for the New York Yankees had commenced at Legends Field, an 11,000-seat stadium used for both games and practices. Donning Yankee ballcaps, Nik and I set out for an adventure.
To my surprise, Spring Training practices were open to the public. People were milling about the complex at will, moving between the main stadium and the side practice fields.
Giddy with excitement, I managed my pace as we headed up the steps to the stadium entrance, trying desperately to avoid dragging Nikolas by the arm the way Christopher Robin dragged Pooh Bear around the 100-acre wood.
Making it to the top of the concourse was like having a dream manifest before your very eyes. Taking seats behind the Third Base dugout, we watched as players went through conditioning drills, listening as coaches provided both direction and correction.
It was all next level for me. We stopped by the concession stand to grab a pretzel for Nik, plus a dog and a beer for me, and headed out of the stadium to watch players practice on the ‘B’ field.
That’s when the true magic happened.
Magic in the Moment
The ‘B’ field is where Next Generation talent is evaluated for progress and potential, a sort of Human Capital Review process for baseball organizations.
One player taking batting practice was becoming visibly frustrated with his results.
Reggie Jackson, a former Yankee All-Star, took the player aside and began working with him one-on-one.
My jaw dropped . . . this was Reggie Jackson, “Mr. October”, someone who has excelled on the biggest stage under the brightest lights, sharing his wisdom and knowledge with a player just trying to make it.
The magic was in watching the young player welcome the coaching. He listened intently, nodded his head to communicate understanding, and continued to practice under Reggie’s guidance.
When it was his turn to bat again, there was an incredible, visible improvement to his technique and results. He powered hits to all corners of the field, sending the last pitch out of the park as a souvenir to some lucky fans.
He and Reggie smiled at each other and embraced.
I got chills.
Nik’s only comment was “Home Run.”
Defining Legacy Talent
Deeper than a “been there, done that” approach, Legacy Talent:
- has experienced both success and failure, garnering valuable insights over time and broadening their appreciation for the thin line that separates the two.
- can influence layers of Next Generation talent through an unwavering commitment to core values and beliefs, personifying an organization’s culture through real-life experience and knowledge.
- remembers once being the Next Generation of talent, brimming with self-confidence and ready to challenge time-honored methods amidst an ever-changing environment.
Why is this important?
Because self-confidence is no substitute for talent and experience.
Legacy Talent can embrace the future from an empathetic perspective, understanding when to slow life down . . . and when to stand back and let it fly.
The concept of Legacy Talent applies universally to every organization, regardless of discipline or industry, searching for a talent continuum to not only strengthen and sustain its culture . . . but allow it to thrive for generations to come.
The challenge is to identify individuals capable of balancing three key perspectives:
There are some things the passage of time simply cannot touch.
For the service industry, making a guest feel welcome and among friends remains high on the list of non-negotiables.
Finance and accounting will be driven by details, the importance of accuracy and integrity not going anywhere anytime soon.
These are the basics, behaviors enhanced through repetition and perfected through continuous coaching and development.
Legacy Talent embraces the strategic importance of non-negotiables by promoting their ultimate importance:
If it’s what matters most to our guests, customers, clients, and patients . . . it’s what contributes most to our pursuit of excellence and success.
Potential and Patience
Compassion is a signature trait to look for when identifying Legacy Talent.
They may not remember being selected for their potential but have grown to respect that reality by having watched others follow a similar path.
This allows them to practice unbelievable levels of patience, exuding calmness as they work to build confidence through experience.
Reggie Jackson’s interaction with the young player that day was a perfect example of this: one-on-one coaching, a subtle refocus on technique, quiet encouragement, instant results.
He believed in the potential of the player. More importantly, he reminded the player to believe in himself.
Room to Grow
Successful organizations never stop asking “What if?”
Legacy Talent can see elements of themselves in the Next Generation and share in the excitement of growth and development. The beauty is in watching an organization grow organically, aware that the future could exist within the next great idea.
It is what has contributed most to their success, weighing the risk involved and being encouraged to try something new . . . maintaining connection to fundamental values and beliefs, but in a new and insightful way: their way.
No longer in the spotlight or perhaps the center of attention, Legacy Talent knows their role is to remain fluid, moving beyond what was to help uncover and promote what could be.
This deepens an already immense feeling of satisfaction, sharing in the experience as someone else takes their next step.
Made Me A Wealthy Soul
There is no better way to pay homage to the role others have played in your development than to turn it around and contribute to someone else’s growth.
Take a moment to realize you have walked in their shoes. Not out of envy or spite, but out of joy for how those experiences have enriched your soul.
Be open . . . embrace change and remain fluid when developing or coaching next generation talent.
Remember that you’re sharing the experience. This includes practicing patience and celebrating accomplishments.
Your results might be summarized in two words: Home Run.
This is Tall Tim, and I Am At Your Service!